When The Steal split up, there was a huge gap waiting for a band like Pacer. It would be wrong to think of them as being purely a continuation of the bands they played in previously, because they really are so much more. While taking on board the raw energy and pace of The Steal, Pacer has the potential for a more widespread appeal. With anthems like “Pasternak” appearing on their very first release, this band is definitely one to keep your eye on.
Since their demo tape (yes, on an actual cassette) was released in 2008, I’ve been hooked on Iron Chic. The band features all of the usual characteristics of an underground punk band, but what sets them apart is their ability to write huge, sing-along choruses that are emphasised through their use of deep, multi-tracked vocals. Words are shouted and projected rather than sung with great effect. This is the sort of fast-paced and fun record in the vein of bands like Dear Landlord and Jawbreaker that seems to be in short supply these days. It has certainly put a smile on my face.
The debut release from this Russian duo was one of the most original albums I have heard this year. Around Past is an exploration of the more progressive and jazz side of Megus and C-Jeff’s palettes. Their use of the more traditional guitars and keyboards alongside the inclusion of the sounds of early videogame consoles is a joy to listen to. The result is a collection of songs that evoke a sense of nostalgia and simultaneously sound like nothing I’ve ever heard before.
The National’s fifth studio album caught me off-guard. Up until that point, I hadn’t been interested in the band at all. I always wrote them off for being rather boring. Everything changed for me when I heard High Violet. The record itself seems like a relationship between the ever-prominent and pleasing baritone vocal, and the instruments that seem to wait for their turn to stand out and shine. The one quality that this record possesses that no other I’ve heard this year has, is that it forces me to stop what I am doing and to simply listen and appreciate it. The lush, vocal-led introduction of “Afraid of Everyone”, the harsh, singular guitar strums of “Lemonworld”, the delicate piano work in the bridge of “Sorrow”; it all seems to catch me off-guard on every repeated listen. High Violet is an album that stands out from the crowd for all of the right reasons; it is a dark, introverted pop record, and one that will surely stand the test of time.
of Montreal’s tenth studio album False Priest is a deeper, more personal affair than previous albums and features the live instrumentation that has been absent from their most recent releases. “Our Riotous Defects” with its excellent spoken-word verses and funk-based choruses is a great example of how the band’s sound has matured while retaining the sense of originality that drew me to them in the first place. The production, thanks to Jon Brion, is among the best, if not the outright best of any of Montreal album. The runaway highlight of the record is the duet with Solange Knowles on “Sex Karma”, a sassy number featuring one of Kevin Barnes most delicate and memorable vocal performances of the record with lines like “close your eyes and count to three/I’ll kiss you where I shouldn’t be/because you look like a playground to me”. The effort both in the production of the music, and of the physical package – the heavyweight double vinyl version features an art book of paintings for each song on the record – shows that this album was clearly a labour of love, and is one that is more than worthy of your time. Groundbreaking.
- Wavves – King of the Beach
- House Boat – Processing Complaints EP
- Good Luck – Demonstration 2010 EP
- Night Birds – EP
- Best Coast – Crazy For You
- Jonsi – Go
- Owen Pallett – Heartland
Best Album Art
- Best Coast – Crazy For You
Best Live Show
- Good Luck and Bangers at the 13th Note, Glasgow
Most Anticipated 2011
- Disasterpeace – Rise of the Obsidian Interstellar